The collection of Marcus Aurelius' life-lessons has remained relevant through ages
The notes were meant to help Marcus Aurelius, a trained Stoic, define a life philosophy and an ideal character worthy of aspiration for himself. They were also intended to help him reflect on how to make good on the responsibilities and obligations of his position as the military leader of an empire. However, the insights in Meditations have proven to be priceless and ageless, as they have resonated with men of all walks of life for thousands of years.
As a soldier, Marcus was both capable and successful; he embarked on several campaigns in the interest of his empire and people and was triumphant in almost all of them. In a similar vein, he was prudent and conscientious as an administrator.
However, the good emperor was not spared domestic and personal troubles. His wife, Faustina, died at an early age, and his children died one by one. By the end of Marcus' life, only one of his sons still lived — the weak and worthless Commodus, who would end up succeeding Marcus as emperor and ruining his father's life legacy during his short reign.
Yet through all his numerous afflictions, Marcus's humility and objectivity were tremendous. And during those years of trouble, Marcus would write twelve books of his private journals “Meditations,” which have gone on to become one of the most practical and influential philosophy books in the history of the world.
In this summary, we will take a look at the major life lessons that recur throughout the book and how they can help lead a better life.